The heat is on, rain … not so much

Photo / Per Peterson

Once again, farmers are keeping their hopeful eyes to the sky this summer. And once again, they are feeling the pressure of a weather extreme.

Tracy received less than 2” of rain in the month of July and that, combined with an average temperature of 84.3 degrees (including five 90-plus degree days) has left the local landscape extremely dry — dry enough for parts of the southern third of the state to last week be classified as “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. What’s more, a heat advisory was in effect Tuesday, as heat index values reached above 100. The more crops at this stage go without significant rain, the more stressed they become, especially under high temps.

“Things are moving along; we had a later painting date, so when you think about how late some things did get planted that did take off some top-end yield,” said Liz Stahl, Extension educator with the University of Minnesota. “You can’t work against the clock so much, but now it is a concern because it’s getting pretty dry in a lot of areas. We could use some moisture; I hope the temperatures don’t get too extreme with heat.

Corn hit the tasseling stage about three weeks ago in many area fields, and now most, if not all, corn has entered the blistering stage. That means rain is needed now more than ever. Stahl said moisture needs increase once tasseling and silking occur.

“It’s a real high moisture use time for corn, and it’s still a high moisture time for soybeans, too, some timely rains would be really great right now,” Stahl said. “Having more moderate temperatures would be helpful, too. Pollination is always really critical; you don’t want to have a lot of stress there.”

See more in this week’s paper!